Getting a divorce in Missouri intertwines legal, financial, and familial decisions. It’s important to have good advice as you iron out the division of assets and debts, spousal and child support, education and sharing of parenting time, and revisions of wills, deeds, and trusts.
Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce
Here, we break down the two main kinds of divorces, how long they take, and what they cost.
What Is a Contested Divorce?
Do the two spouses disagree on how to sort out their assets, debts, and responsibilities? If the parties are unable to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution, they have a contested divorce—at least until they can iron out the points of contention, if they ever can.
At some point before a trial begins, they might, through their lawyers, work out a settlement to avoid the litigation. If so, the settlement agreement must be correctly drafted, properly followed, and made enforceable. If a settlement is impossible, a judge will divide the parties’ assets and obligations.
How Long Should a Contested Divorce Take in Missouri?
Missouri’s no-fault divorce is a modern mechanism which understands irreconcilable differences can arise between any two human beings. Still, even if no one has been shown at fault, the conduct of spouses in the marriage are relevant. Any major disagreement between the parties lengthens the process. Sometimes, if the divorce is not your fault, and if your spouse refuses to be fair, you’ll want to have a contested divorce, in order to achieve a fair outcome.
It is possible for a contested divorce to take years, depending on how strongly one or two of the parties feel about getting their expectations met. Yet the efficiency and professionalism of their lawyers also matters. A good lawyer tries to save a client money and stress, and therefore works to avoid a long, drawn-out divorce.
How Much Does a Contested Divorce Cost?
The nationwide divorce cost averages about $13,000 to $15,000, and the national average cost for cases that go to trial can exceed $20,000. This includes attorneys’ fees and court filing fees. There can be additional expenses when child custody assessments, real estate appraisals, accountants, and non-legal professionals are brought into the matter.
Does that mean your case will cost that much? No. The high-stakes cases bring the average cost up nationwide. Will it cost $2,000 or greater? Very possibly.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
Sometimes, the two parties can agree to proceed with an uncontested divorce, sometimes called a cooperative divorce if everyone is in full agreement and willing to cooperate and sign all necessary documentation. Generally, the couple would reach agreement on the many aspects of the case, and then the petitioning party would hire a lawyer to prepare all of the paperwork correctly and make sure the case is filed and completed. The process can move along without the stress and strain of a trial, and legal fees will be much less expensive. Many counties allow for cooperative divorce cases to be handled without any court hearing at all, if one of the parties hire an attorney.
All things considered, resolving to work out disagreements outside the courtroom is usually the best way forward, if the parties can make it happen. Your uncontested divorce lawyer in Missouri will help you do so, if it appears possible.
How Long Should an Uncontested Divorce Take in Missouri?
A completely cooperative divorce will usually be granted by the court within around 60 days after the case is initially filed. In theory, given Missouri’s required 30-day waiting period, a final divorce decree could be granted 31 days after a case is filed, but judges are very busy, and do not necessarily enter judgment at the very first possible moment. In order to maintain reasonable expectations of when a judge will act, we usually say 60 days. Additionally, before filing the case, there are preliminary steps that must be taken:
- You would fill out a questionnaire containing all of the information necessary for filing the case.
- You would first meet for an initial consultation (by phone, video, or in person) and hire our firm.
- We would create all of the legal documents required for the divorce.
- Both parties would need to review and sign all of the legal documents.
- The documents are then filed with the Court.
Once the 30 day waiting period has run, the case can be finalized and the divorce decree signed by the judge.
If your spouse is not cooperative, than you do not have a cooperative divorce. If you cannot reach or locate your spouse at all, there are other options available, such as service through a newspaper announcement. To learn more about “Publication Divorce”, click on the preceding link.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
Nationwide, the average runs just over $4,000 for an uncontested divorce. At our firm, if both parties are very cooperative, we can sometimes do the case for hundreds of dollars rather than thousands, especially if there are no kids or not much property. Generally, if there are kids and property, our fees can range from $750 to $1,500, depending on many factors.
Be aware: legal representation can minimize costs and guide you to make decisions you’ll be able to live with comfortably, long after today’s difficulties are in the rear-view mirror. At Affordable Legal Services, a division of the Piatchek Law Firm, our attorneys can complete your cooperative, uncontested divorce case quickly, efficiently, and affordably. Contact Us Today to discuss your situation.
How Else Can a Missouri Divorce Lawyer Be Helpful?
A divorce lawyer can be very helpful in many cases, including:
- If your case is cooperative, and you want to be divorced affordably, quickly, amicably, and with no court hearing;
- Your family dynamics are complex.
- You have high-value assets.
- You want to be sure the divorce provisions adhere to Missouri law.
- You need to modify an agreement.
- You need to review your estate plan, transfer the right interests, and release debt that’s not yours.
Your attorney can advise you on whether to dispute your spouse’s claims and help you make wise decisions in a stressful time. Contact our office in Springfield, MO for your complimentary consultation.
Please note, while our main offices are located in Springfield, our Missouri attorneys handle cases for clients throughout the entire state, especially if your case is a cooperative divorce.